December 16, 2004

BACKGROUND INFO: Latin America and the Global Children's Media Market

This paper explores some of the challenges related to making Latin American children's television programming part of the global kids market. According to sources cited by author Ryan Shiotani, the children's programming market is defined by shared languages rather than national borders. In that context, Latin America is part of growing "region" including Spain, Portugal, and United States' Hispanics. Worldwide, there are 358 million native Spanish speakers (as opposed to 341 million native English speakers; there are 176 million native Portuguese speakers).

Shiotani points out that pan-regional kids channels are coming of age in Latin America, mainly through dubbed programming produced by strong parent companies or acquisitions. Local kids' production has been conducted by terrestrial broadcasters for national markets (Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, etc.). However, independent production is developing.

Shiotani examines trends in opportunities suggested by Spain (European) and Hispanic (USA) children's programming gateways for Latin America. For example, he references the growth of pan-regional kids channels, which have pushed development of original "pan-Latin" programming such as "Teletubbies", Discovery Kids Latin America, and "Plaza Sesamo" (Sesame Workshop).

Meanwhile, while "Animation is a globalized industry, with development done across borders and production contracted out to countries with lower labor costs", the author also states that Asian studios have been gaining experience in development and pre-production. India has entered the animation production market with rates up to 25% below the rest of Asia.

One of Shiotani's concluding remarks on Latin America as a producer of children's programming for a global market is that "Alliances among producers which transcend national borders are key, both in the growing Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking world and beyond..."
Chris Schuepp
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